Ferros

War in Ominia, Episode 2
Poison sucks!

The party made their way through the camp of devils up to the hill with the portal. After a nasty encounter with some ice devils, they finally arrived at the portal. It was fifteen feet tall and wide and radiated evil. Literally. It was orange-colored evil. Niachi looked around to notice a faint magic circle around it. So he did what anyone else would do and smudged it. The portal fuzzed and burst into flame. Cause it’s a portal to Hell. That’s what it does. Burn things. But the party did not realize that the Pit Fiend guarding the portal was still around. He attacked Niachi with his claws, wings, and terribly foul mouth. The cat jumped back in his invisibility, but the damage was done. The wound burned and festered. A glance showed the poison burning along his veins, slowly making its way to his heart. But he didn’t let that stop him. The party engaged the beast.

The pit fiend began by summoning a friend, a horned devil, but his mighty plans were quickly derailed by the ninjas. Invisible and ethereal, they damaged him tremendously and forced his retreat. His fearsome fireballs were useless against them. Sara summoned an astral construct to deal with the horned devil. It distracted the beast long enough for the ninjas to knock him out. Had Rom or Raniy been around, they might have informed the party that such a defeat was only temporary until it regenerated, but alas the party didn’t know. With the immediate threat down in 30 seconds, they began destroying the magic circle around the portal. It fizzled and fuzzed, but remained undamaged. They attempted to ask Raniy for help, but just as she felt like waking up, Niachi clutched his chest and fell over. He was dead. His soul went on to Savani’s rest.

Struck with grief, Sara and Titus pulled out Valorie’s folding boat and opened it up into a canoe. They packed their friends in, called Wilhelm to send a teleport, and began rowing up and away to watch the battle below. With the pit fiend gone, the forces on the south side of the city fractured into smaller factions. The infighting gave the defenders enough chance to push them back and gain a reprieve. While the devil leadership assembled on the hill to fight it out, the defenders rolled in their own siege weaponry: ballistas that fired some sort of magical explosives. Wherever the explosives landed was filled with a cloud of light and red fire and no demons or devils remained. It only took a few volleys to clear most of the south side. Filled with a measure of hope (as much as either of them could feel) for the city, they began to row away until a seductive voice stopped them.

It was Vespa. She flew there, facing them down in her barely-there armor, only this time upgraded with a fancy hooded robe. Despite it’s lack of obvious protection and her sultry voice, she struck a measure of terror and caution into Sara and Titus. She attempted to persuade them to join by offering their choice of plunder form the city below, particularly in the Staff of Alderac, but they remained firm. She shrugged and aimed her trident at them. They began to row faster. “Rowing away in a canoe? How brave,” Vespa taunted.

“We only have fucking two people!” Sara yelled. Titus nearly fell overboard laughing. Vespa was less amused and with a mutter cast Implosion. A bright burst of light shoved her away as Twilight Sparkle encapsulated the canoe with a golden sphere. She was joined by High Father Hirzon, Saint Amoss, and Herald Frederick. And they were angry. Vespa laughed and did her best to charm them, even offering a chance at the spanking of a lifetime, but Amoss was far too used to the ways of Manny and such subtlety went somewhat over her head. With a great whack, Frederick knocked the sphere away and the four of them joined battle in an epic cutscene.

Meanwhile, in the canoe, Twilight explained that if they wanted to close the portal, they’d have to return. There were a few ways to do it. The sacrifice of a pure, innocent life, a powerful casting of disjunction, or the destruction of an artifact like the Axalted or the Staff of Alderac would all do. Titus considered giving up William but Sara suggested that he might not be so pure and innocent, and Rom would never stand for such things. Fortunately, Twilight had it prepared. She handed Titus the Super Ultimate Twi-tastic Disjoiner 9382.11! The small ball had been enchanted to release a burst of magical energy combining a disjunction, dimensional anchor, and antimagic field to completely destroy the portal and all protections it might have. Due to the unusual combination of effects there, she warned it was particularly unstable and anything might set it off. Titus asked if it would destroy the other portals around the city but she said no, each portal was its own separate instance. Unless they were all close together on the Hell side, the Deluxe Sparkle-Cannon of Golden Justice Power Beam of Truth would only eliminate the one portal. But in order to destroy all those other portals, someone would have to go to the Hell side and activate it from there. It might be a one-way trip. Titus volunteered.

Twilight set them down near the portal. She gave them each a teleport tile to break in case of quick retreat and they prepared to face off against the pit fiend, who had clearly been healed up by his mistress. Titus ran for the back of the portal while Sara summoned an astral construct and tossed Really Interesting Name to it. The sword was very upset about the whole affair. The construct and the devil were evenly matched and struggled against the other while Titus jumped through the portal.

On the other side he found himself on a staging grounds. Five other portals surrounded the area. The one he’d come through and four others clearly led to the grounds around the Silver City, but the portal opposite him led to a garden. Through it he could see flowers, some graves, and a gazebo containing a well. It was very familiar. He went up to it and looked through. No one appeared to be there. Just a flower wouldn’t hurt. One flower from Lachesis’ demiplane would make him a better thief than either Hirzon or Xark. He dashed in, but as he tried to leave, his legs grew heavy and he fell to the ground. Behind him stood a man in white with a gold wheel above his head. The Exarch smiled upon poor Titus and allowed him to stand. He just wanted to have a talk. True, he could snap his fingers and force Titus’ cooperation, but he would really rather Titus just join of his own will. After all, as Exarch, Lachesis was the God of Fate and Freedom, the champion of choosing one’s own way. They spoke and Titus, realizing his plight, said yes, upon three conditions.

#. Return Obrican to the party.
#. Allow Manny access to the Material Plane.
#. Declare Titus an Ur-Lord.

Lachesis laughed and agreed to his first and third demands easily but asked about the second. Titus backed up, not saying anything. Lachesis held up a hand and asked again, pointing out that Titus really didn’t have the leverage here. Sure, Lachesis would prefer a volunteer, but a conscript would do just as well. Titus said it would make the game more fair. The Exarch considered this for a moment, saying that he’d intended to fight Manny eventually, having it on the Material Plane wouldn’t really change that. And he doubted that Manny would do anything too foolish and risk losing worshipers in a deific battle. So he agreed to that as well. He reached out his hand and Titus tumbled backward through the portal, pushing the button on the Einstein-Rosen Disrupter 8294.293 of Awesomeness! Lachesis snapped his fingers, but as Titus felt his soul begin to warp, the bomb blew and shut the portal.

Landing on the other side, he ran across the dais as the other portal winked out. The blast wave was thinning as it reached his, but the portal was fuzzing up. Putting all he had into it, he made one last jump and came through just in time! Titus landed on the pit fiend, who threw him off, and took a moment to relax. Sara was having no such luck, however, as RLN and the construct were making no headway against the fiend. Even when Titus joined a moment later, it seemed as if the devil’s magical power would overcome them. Titus was out of ki points, but managed to get behind the devil when out of the sky fell a quiver of arrows at Sara’s feet. Five arrows made of a glowing light. Sara didn’t know what they were or where they came from, but picking them up she knew they were a gift from a friend.

She set the first to her bow and fired. It missed. She set the second and fired again, but the devil deflected it. And then she set the third and the magic of the others helped guide it true. When it struck, a sexy diva appeared and slapped the devil with the force of a magic anvil. Sara whooped and fired again. The sexy diva struck again and slapped the devil between its eyes and it fell to the ground, defeated. They quickly grabbed its loot bag and broke the teleportation tiles and vanished. In the sky, the three warriors fought Vespa to a standstill. As soon as the portals around the city began to vanish, Twilight reappeared with the boat and teleported them back home, leaving a bruised Vespa to watch as the Ominians quickly broke the siege and made short work of her army.

Back home, word reached the High Fathers of the Silver City’s victory. The Ominian Emperor extended a hand of alliance so long as the Resistance didn’t preach too much. Sara spoke to Twilight about the mysterious arrows and Twilight figured she could simulate them. She analyzed Titus’ corruption and found he was on the verge of falling. Even one more point of corruption would turn him into an Abomination. Niachi’s body was brought to Father Arroway, along with a significant sum of diamonds, but Father Arroway refused to help. Lachesis’ grip on the world made it too dangerous to resurrect anyone. He reminded Titus that’s what had caused his current situation. Going to another plane aside from the Slow Time plane would give them a pretty good chance of success, but to be certain in returning him to life, they would need to travel to the plane where Niachi’s soul rested. Neither of them knew where that might be, so they waited for Rom and Raniy to wake up, and waited to see what sort of revenge the Wyrd might try next.

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War in Ominia, Episode 1
Everyone failed the Listen check

Having retrieved the Key of Slow Time, Team RASN went home where Niachi pestered Twilight into upgrading his sword. Annoyed, she popped over into the slow-time plane, made it and popped back. She was ragged, haggard, her mane was a mess and her eyes were bulging. Her voice was starting to do the crazy thing as her eyes twitched. The party looked at her carefully. Slowly, Niachi reached a hand out. Slowly Twilight levitated the sword to him. Rom held his breath. Holo peeked out from behind a box. Titus turned around to check out someone’s butt. And then Niachi asked, “Did you make it Danciga?” Twilight paused her levitation amidst an audible snap! No one breathed.

TwilightwhirledtheswordaroundslammingitintoNiachisohardheflewbackintoRomandRaniyandtheyflewbackintoKadenandMittensandSaraandTitusandsomeothergirlthenshescoopedthemallupintotheairandthrewthemasfarasshecouldandastheyflewawaysheblastedthemwithateleporttowhoknowswherewithatremendousexplosionoflightsoundandcolor. Elone walked over to the purple unicorn and gave her a hug. No words, no nonsense, just a hug. Twilight let out a deep breath and collapsed into her arms, falling asleep immediately. She carried the unicorn up to her room and set her into bed. Hirzon followed her and pulled up a chair and a few good books and waited, reading and occasionally looking over at the poor mare. She needed some rest.

Meanwhile, the party experienced an unusually long time in the astral void of the teleport and introduced themselves to the new girl, a favored soul of Manny. As they were getting acquainted, the teleport popped them out above The Silver City. They fell toward it and slammed into an invisible wall and slowly slid downward. As they slid, making an obnoxious noise, they noticed the city was under siege by a legion of demons, devils, and antitheses. Defenders on the wall included clerics of Elohim, combining their power to blast the demons with pillars of light, and clerics of Fallais, banishing any outsider that got too far up the wall. As they slid, some paladin knocked them off with an arrow into a pile of imps, who died immediately upon their standing up. Bewildered, they cleared out the nobodies around them with a few waves of their hands and then fought off a few waves of stronger demons who had survived their arrival. Rom figured that somewhere nearby was likely to be a portal and a small command post, so he recommended they head that way. A small silver badge fell from the sky bearing the symbol of Elohim. Titus stuck it in his pocket without thinking since no one realized they were right next to the wall with defenders on it who might have tossed it to them.

But instead of going north along the wall or west to a field, both full of monsters to kill and XP to earn, the druid turned into an eagle and soared above the battlefield and pinpointed the portal and command post for this section. Their new favored soul friend cast wind walk upon them and they all traveled straight for the portal. At first they had planned to split the party like idiots, even though that always ends badly, but fortunately the command post wasn’t amenable to that. So they planned to all go in, but then stopped when they realized it was guarded by a pit fiend and all of his minions (since they hadn’t wandered through and killed them separately). They argued with me for a while, but eventually Manny himself came down and said that the whole battlefield was specifically laid out to provide them with an adventure and they finally agreed to go through the command post properly. They ran through the supplies, rummaging around and nearly dying to an unlucky phantasmal killer, but then rallied and killed everything.

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The Key of Slow Time, Ep 2
Mirai

The next morning, Mirumoto went to meet Niachi underneath the cherry blossom tree. He brought along a guard and Holo, who brought Rom. Niachi and Titus were there, waiting. Mirumoto was skeptical of their intentions but other matters were clearly on his mind. He made his case short and succinct: return the Kako and take Holo and in return he’d sign the partnership with the Resistance. The group didn’t stick around to find out what was bothering him or what he’d need help with as Sara had just returned from seeing Walker. Walker’s spells had revealed that the wakizashi Kako was actually one-half of the Key of Slow Time. When Sara revealed this to Niachi at the negotiation, he attempted to force Holo to give the key to them. She was not impressed and it seemed like there would be a stand-off until The Seamstress showed up and had them make Sense Motive checks to realize that Holo was in complete agreement with them, she was just putting on a good show. Once that was taken care of and the Resistance agreement signed, Holo suggested they go out camping. Reluctantly they did.

Out there she explained some of the situation: The Kako had been entrusted to her by a friend and she was going to look after it. The other half was a katana in Niflheim, the city of the Dwarves in Ominia. The party had Walker independently verify this. Rom revealed that Holo was the original lycanthrope, which had given her the power over him, but the lack of faith from her ‘grandchildren’ had basically stripped her of most of her godly powers. She congratulated him for finally figuring it out and confirmed the story. Apparently she had done a stint as a harvest goddess over the past few centuries in lieu of her original role and had received a visit from Olim’s favored saint. With all the exposition she was willing to provide, the party had Twilight return them home, where they sold some stuff, had Twilight start working on Really Interesting Name, and followed Holo’s lead in some mid-game stretches.

Stretching complete, they teleported away to Ominia, but the dwarves wouldn’t let them in. Titus got around this with the dwarven national anthem. Impressed with his performance of “Diggy Diggy Hole” (and the encore rendition of “I’m Gonna Be”, an ever-popular dwarven favorite), the gatekeeper let him in, his boredom relieved. Inside, they had a quick drinking contest, which Holo lost quickly and Rom won, as usual. In the morning they began asking around about old shrines. Walker’s scrying had revealed that the katana was in a shrine with the symbols of a cross on a radiant burst (Elohim), a broken mountain, and twelve grains of sand. Four shrines were said to be in the city: one to Olim, Khazar, Moridin, and Kolad. Holo didn’t know much about them but was a bit hesitant about the last one. Niachi, recognizing the trope of Suspicious Hesitation, deduced that the shrine of Kolad was important somehow (they never figured out why).

The Shrine of Kolad was old and zen-like. It was small enough that it only had two rooms: one with a sand-garden and an ancient cleric’s regalia. It did have an old dwarf who assumed they were pilgrims of a sort and asked them about their purpose and their interpretation of a wall scroll before showing them into the altar. As predicted, the katana lay on the altar. Sara took the Kako from Holo and picked up the Mirai. With Past and Future, she attempted to activate the Key of Slow Time. It was amusing. She poked the swords together, crossed them, hopped, skipped, sliced the air, and even followed (poorly) Niachi in a niten kata (a choreographed practice set of moves with two swords). Nothing worked. Raniy wasn’t much help, only suggesting the activation of the key might be the same as the activation for any other magic item. They sighed and handed the Kako back to Holo for the moment, but then they noticed the old cleric had vanished.

Thinking perhaps he had just retired to the antechamber they left the altar and found him, but he quickly cast off his cloak and revealed himself as The Ultimate Hero of Space and Time!. He asked for the swords very nicely, but instead Sara and Holo tossed them to Niachi, who was proficient with the niten style. Battle started off well with Niachi dashing in and out, Sara powering up, and Titus jumping in for ethereal hits. Xark was unamused and tumbled over to Raniy. Catching her off-guard, he knocked her out with his two swords in one hasty set of attacks. Realizing the danger, Rom used his Prismatic Brooch, knowing he could be next. The spray caught Xark slightly off-guard. Not enough to hurt him, but at point-blank range it’s hard to dodge all the rays. He was hit by several and vanished, teleported to another plane. The party wasted no time in getting out and requested an emergency evac from Twilight.

With both swords, they sent a message to Walker, asking for the location of the Gate of Slow Time. He graciously offered to take them there, if they were willing to give him the Key. They refused, offering to grant him access, but that wasn’t enough. So going off of Niachi’s description of the place, Twilight plane-shifted them right over, putting them 90 miles away. With nothing else to do, they cast Find the Path and began flying on Valorie’s old flying boat. After a few hours of not seeing anything, they began to get suspicious. Raniy and Sara checked the path. It still led forward, but they realized they’d been going slightly to the left. Rom was fervent in his belief that the spell had to be giving them the right path while Niachi reasoned that a path going forward and slightly left would just take them in a large circle. Rom’s fervor didn’t let up for a while and so they spent another few hours traveling along their orbit with no sign of the Gate. Eventually, Titus got bored and turned the ship 90 degrees left. Rom was grumpy, but two hours later, they came within sight of the island. Somehow, Sara realized, the spell had been thrown off. Either the place couldn’t be found, or someone had interfered with the spell. Rom and Raniy weren’t sure how that could happen.

With abandon, Titus piloted the ship toward the island, but as they drew close, Sara and Niachi made out a figure standing there. A second later, it cast a green ray at the ship. The ray struck and while the ship resisted, it rocked and creaked with the damage. It was Walker, and he was trying to kill them! Titus turned the ship hard to port and slowed his descent a little (not nearly enough, but they wouldn’t die, probably). Walker sent a meteor swarm, a fireball, and a freezing spehere at the ship followed by one last disintegrate as it drew close. The thing broke apart and everyone fell. Niachi aimed for the wizard, Mirai and Kako in-hand. Walker tried a last-ditch lightning bolt at the ninja, but the power of the Zohar gave him a chance to dodge and he slammed into the wizard. Recovering quickly, he tumbled away and back, flipping the wizard up and stabbing the swords through his body into the Gate of Slow Time. The swords began to glow and the Gate opened…

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The Key of Slow Time, Ep 1
Spice and Wolf

The party was joined by the druid Atkin and his tiger companion Mittens and became Team RASN (pronounced “raisin” cuz they be raisin’ the roof, son). Then Twilight teleported them to the place closest to the Key of Slow Time as she could: that one town in the Esterlands. There the party checked into the Brown-Fourmen hotel and asked around for the local wizard or sage. They were directed to a certain Walker, but were informed by the townspeople that he was out of town. Upon inspection of his house, Rom and Sara confirmed his out-of-town status. Niachi was less than impressed and used his new shadow walk spell to inspect the house. Sure enough it was present in the shadow plane (which was having some strange weather) and well warded. So he knocked. A magic mouth appeared and took a message. When he told the others, they felt silly and did the same.

In the meantime, the party went to look at the local temples of Lachesis. At the first one they visited, they encountered a friendly Fatespinner and a strange ranger with corrupted skin. The Fatespinner introduced himself and then Raniy touched his soul just long enough for Rom to punch his head off. The ranger attempted to flee but his elven ancestry doomed him to failure. He was briefly imprisoned in a coccoon and surrounded, but barely escaped through a fortunate tree stride. Niachi knocked over a font of baptismal corruption while Sara and the others gave chase. As they ran through the streets, they were stymied by a dispute between a peddler with a cart and an old woman in a crimson cloak. Rom resolved the dispute while Sara and Atkin took wing and flew after the ranger. They encountered him in the forest and trapped him in a reverse gravity field. He was dead within seconds.

A few days later Niachi received a message from Walker, asking to meet. He was very impressed with the ninja’s shadow walking skills and took him and Atkin on a short visit to the Astral Plane to explain the Key of Slow Time. He showed them a great door, fancy and wondrous and white. He said it was a portal to a plane where time flowed slower than normal, a boon to any crafter of magical items. Whoever holds the key can open the portal and access the plane, and once in, they can determine who is allowed in and from where. Since the plane had been accessible in the past, Walker assumed that they had been very generous but had probably hidden the key. That’s why, when Zerstorung happened and Lachesis began to isolate the material plane, the connection was shut. So now the key is the only way in, but the key is lost. Walker also said the dwarves might once have known about it, but such was only legend.

They returned to the material plane to inform the others. To scry out the key, Walker used a piece of planar wall, a powerful spell additive, and very shiny. The scrying revealed a cart full of goods, a peddler, and a young woman inside the city. Rom realized a moment later that it was the same cart he had seen a few days ago! The party dashed off. When they arrived, they worked with quiet efficiency. Atkin distracted the peddler, looking through his furs and armor for anything that would be interesting to buy. Rom spoke to the girl, who introduced herself as Holo. She seemed to recognize him and he felt strangely cautious around her, but couldn’t figure out why. Niachi noticed something was up and cooked up a plan with Sara. As he took a turn talking to Holo, Sara used her psionics to pull one of the cart wheels out of place, very sneakily. Holo fell and Niachi caught her, feeling that she carried some sort of case beneath her clothing and also concealed a tail. She felt somewhat indignant and demanded that Lawrence, the peddler, take her away to meet with the Merchant’s Guild. Raniy fixed the wheel for them and they took off quickly. As they left, Rom chased them to ask Holo something, but she turned and told him to STAY. The order shook him to his inner wolf and he stopped, confused. Niachi and him realized that the strange thing about her, was that she smelled like Rom.

Having tagged the pair as she had tagged the ranger, Sara tracked Holo and Lawrence to a large house bearing a chrysanthemum. A few questions told them that this house belonged to Mirumoto Rai, the chief of guards of the town and a once-friend of Manny (and Severus, but that was long ago). So they waited until it was night, and then snuck in. Niachi took Mittens to speak with Mirumoto. They woke him gently and explained they were from the Resistance of Manny. Mirumoto remembered the barbarian, but asked for a demonstration of trust before he sided with them. He instructed Niachi to meet him with one party member under a certain sakura tree at 11:30 the next morning, and he would then arrive with one of his guards. If Niachi kept him alive and did as instructed, then they would talk. Niachi agreed and began to keep watch.

Sara and Atkin followed the tag to Holo’s bedroom. Inside, Sara began to search for the Key. She didn’t know what it would be like, but under Holo’s clothing she found a very elaborate wakizashi, barely magical. She took it but wasn’t sure if Holo had decided to sleep with the key or not. Via Mittens, they sent for Niachi. He arrived and felt around but didn’t find anything. Not wanting to miss anything, he pulled down the covers and realized that Holo didn’t prefer pajamas. He tried to put the covers back up but it was too late, she awoke. Holo howled.

The howl of Holo is not one that can be ignored by any wolf, dog, or lycanthrope. Rom felt a call to come, an instinctive response of the wolf inside him and dashed up the stairs. Sara ran into him on her way out, panicking, but she didn’t say much. Niachi, Atkin, and Mittens all jumped out the window and when Rom arrived upstairs he was met with a confused Lawrence, some guards, a suspicious Mirumoto and a very grumpy Holo. The guards looked to give him a hard time, but Holo took charge and demanded that he bring his friends back. He resisted enough to give them warning to escape and returned to her, lying that they got away. Grumpy, she ordered him to stay with her and pointed to a spot on the floor. Saying he’d be more comfortable as a dog she attempted to force him to change, but his sanctified nature and years of training as a paladin allowed him to resist. Holo continued to push but he explained that he couldn’t remain in his form for long and she relented.

In night the Dog sleeps,
but at sakura’s morning,
the Cat meets the Sword.

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Bluesky City: Episode 3
Yasuo's Destruction

The day was set, the preparations complete for the attack. The local resistance of Bluesky had done some reconnaissance on the new temples and divined their purpose. Severus was planning a special ritual in the heart of Bluesky City to power up the Antitheses of the world. The ritual was to be conducted at the main temple and spread across Ferros via the use of very large emanation stones. Such epic magic, however, would be too much for one stone to handle, so smaller conduits were set up across the city. Destroy the stones and you would stop the ritual, or at least weaken it. General Beatrix had originally planned on attacking the zorite crystals during their transport from the mines, but with the increase in security she didn’t think it would be wise. The crystals were now being transported in cages of zorite steel and guarded by Wolfrau. When Severus was ready to start the ritual, the zorite steel cages would be released at the same time by the guards at each temple site. Any disruptions and the guards wouldn’t release the casings, preventing the ritual and letting Severus know something was happening. So Beatrix planned to attack all five sites at once.

Each one of Team RYSN would take a site, assisted by a friend or cohort. They decided where to go, but at the last minute, Yasuoi decided to split from his cohort, Quin, and stay with Titus. Niachi attacked with Sister Elone, Sara’phiem partnered with Brother Thom, and of course Rom stuck with Raniy. They would have one minute, and no way to communicate with each other.

Immediately most of them got off to a bad start. Raniy attempted to shatter the crystal, only to discover that as an emanation stone, it emanated the spell in a much more powerful manner across the entire temple, nearly destroying the building. Sara’phiem and Niachi learned this in the first few rounds as well, much to their chagrin. Quin had known this might happen and warned Yasuo ahead of time, but each group soon found themselves needing to use this property to their advantage as best as they could. It never worked. Raniy tried to paralyze the crystal, thinking a powerful spell would destroy it, but it only paralyzed her. Thom tried flamestrike and Sara tried entangle to slow down their monk and Wolfrau, but the one simply avoided it and the other absorbed it. Niachi attempted to use an unfinished spell to send the crystal to the shadow plane, but it blinded or hurt everyone in the temple. Yasuo deliberately used it to try and damage the golems at his site, which was very effective but hurt him just as much. Despite the bungling, they seemed to do well for the first round or two, but then things began to go wrong.

Rom and Raniy were slowed down by their enemies and Raniy’s spellcasting. Yasuo and Titus were sharply debuffed by a sorcerer casting the Hilbert Effect. Beatrix left Quin to draw off some reinforcements from General Ephraim and Quin was then attacked by Nathan Fillion, Beatrix’s second-in-command. Sara and Thom struggled to deal damage to the golems, Wolfrau, and crystal, all of which were largely impervious to their magic. The only one without any problems seemed to be Niachi as he bounced around the battlefield in his dervish dance. Despite his early playfulness and testing of the crystal, as his minute passed he became serious and used Really Interesting Name to make short work of it. He was the first to destroy his crystal.

Rom and Raniy succeeded next. Once they realized magic was not the way to go, Rom simply hit it with his claws. He was nearly carried off by the golem, but a Holy Anvil stopped it. After a tense battle with Nathan, Quin knocked him out and destroyed her crystal in a few hits. Time ticked by and Sara and Titus still hadn’t destroyed either of their crystals. With seconds left, Sara used all her mental strength to seal off the enemies behind an ectoplasmic barrier, toss some bombs at the crystal, and have Thom call down one last flamestrike to ignite them, blowing it up spectacularly. But Titus and Yasuo couldn’t get it done. Once they were forced into the material plane in real bodies, the stone golems had kept Titus on the ropes by grabbing him. He escaped, only to be grabbed again. While he was distracted, Yasuo kept dealing with small punches to his armor by a hit-and-run monk while also trying to damage the golems by using crystal shard on the zorite. It worked, but badly hurt himself in the process and missed the monk. This left an opening for the monk to knock him out with one more punch. The monk made ready to finish him, but Titus knocked him out in return, intending to capture him for interrogation. He managed to revive Yasuo just enough, but their time was running out. The ritual was almost complete. With nothing else to try, Yasuo put his final efforts into a disintegrate, hoping that the raw power of destruction would be enough to stop the crystal. Knowing it would kill him.

From across the city, almost everyone could see the sudden greenish-black sphere of destruction engulf the city. The beams of destruction shot forth in every direction from the zorite, creating a massive crater a thousand feet across and half as deep. Somehow Titus resisted the raw power and the fall should have killed him, but he woke up moments later feeling nothing but pain. His legs were shattered and useless, his arm twisted backward unnaturally. Above him, the crystal remained, floating in the center of the complete destruction. Above the city a thin beam shot forth into the sky, sending out a single ripple of power. The ritual was successful, but had been incredibly weakened. The Wyrd would not gain the strength they had thought.


After the battle everyone returned to the resistance’s headquarters to meet with Beatrix and report. Yasuo, Quin, and Titus were late, but something about the attack had bothered Rom and Sara. Listening to each other’s notes, they realized that each of them had had different enemies. Each had been optimized against them. Somehow they had been spied upon and their plans leaked to the Monks. They suspected either a powerful scrying or a mole and made preparations to interrogate the resistance captains. As Raniy meditated to reassign spells, Quin returned with the news: Yasuo had died trying to destroy his crystal, and Titus was back in Jik’ton for healing. Her report strongly implicated Nathan Fillion, who had disappeared after her fight and had reappeared briefly at Beatrix’s HQ to try and through suspicion off. Not certain, Raniy, Rom, and Sara interrogated the resistance captains, who all appeared to be clean. They also said it was probably Nathan, though none of them actually knew anything. With this in hand, the party reported to Beatrix, who was stricken with grief over the destruction, failure, and betrayal. She took it very personally and swiftly took them to the palace.

Expecting a climactic fight with Nathan Fillion and General Ephraim, the party geared up. Titus had returned with a fresh pair of legs from Father Arroway and Raniy prominenced everyone. Beatrix led them into the heart of the palace, to the Royal Chambers. Outside stood a man in heavy ornamental armor and cape wielding a mighty spear: General Ephraim. He advanced on them and demanded to know their purpose. And when they answered, he lifted his spear…and gave Beatrix a hug, glad to see her safe after Yasuo’s Destruction. The party was confused. He led them into the chambers where they met his sister General Eirika and Princess Tamra.

Tamra spoke largely with Titus, swiftly and decisively negotiating a deal between Manscell and the Resistance of Manny. The Resistance would provide Manscell with gold and resources and would rebuild Prime Meridian’s trade routes as well as manpower to take back the mines and other strategic locations. In return, Manscell would assist in recruiting for the Resistance, supply valuable materials, allow them to recruit Father Iomhar, and promote the worship of Manny. He was a bit reluctant at first until she reminded him that he was currently in the same room as the Four Generals of Manscell. This confused the party since only Generals Ephraim, Eirika, and Beatrix were present. Three times they asked, “What happened to the fourth general?” and three times the generals responded “We are the Four Generals of Manscell.” The party was very confused.

With all the excitement concluded, most of the party returned to Jik’ton. Titus stuck around to torture and interrogate a monk, who maybe revealed the locations of the other corrupted monks, though he also displayed a greater shout power and killed himself. Rom and Sara stuck around to look for the special piece of information about the Wyrd. Beatrix knew something but wouldn’t say directly, just telling Sara to go to the “Church Services” of Lachesis. Rom objected so they sat on a fountain and talked.

Sara sat through the church services. At first it was all songs and praise, but then the preaching began. The pastor talked about how Lachesis freed the soul from the oppression of the gods. He said the gods were weak, that they were the gods of one idea at most. How strong could a god of the mountains be if he couldn’t also be the god of the forests? How powerful could the god of the Ominians be if other gods still opposed him? The Seamstress, he said, was the worst, writing down and weaving everyone’s fates into the Loom. How could you have choice if she decided everything? Lachesis. Lachesis is the God of Fate and Freedom, of one’s own wyrd (a sort of personal destiny, fate, or purpose, supposedly self-made). And while he gave his blessings (the pastor indicated the corrupted among the churchmembers) his true converts were the Fatespinners. A group of people stood up, all wearing a similar outfit: a brown cloak with the symbol of the Wyrd made into a wheel on it and each held a holy symbol made into a spinner. Sara had seen them earlier and watched them. Unlike everyone else, who were mostly there by force, these five had seemed sincere in their worship, and now were proud Lachesis-ites it seemed. The pastor said that these Fatespinners could make their own destiny and that anyone could be like them, just speak with them afterward.

Sara stuck around after the service and indeed someone showed some genuine interest. Most of the conversation was drivel, but before Sara left, the Fatespinner did something. He asked the nearby Monk to hit him and the Monk did so, very successfully. Then Fatespinner put his hand on his holy spinner and flicked it and said to try again. The Monk struck and for a moment he hit, but in the instant that he did, the world flickered and all of a sudden the Monk’s fist sailed right past the Fatespinner’s nose. He had made the Monk miss! No one else seemed to notice the flicker, so Sara returned to Beatrix and asked about them.

Beatrix said the Fatespinners had appeared a month-and-a-half ago. She didn’t know where they came from, but somehow they were different. They were charismatic and sincere in their worship. Sure the corrupted worshiped the Wyrd, but how much worship could they really give as Antitheses? She reckoned that somehow the Fatespinners were the real followers of Lachesis, and were really drawing power from him. That’s when Rom informed her of Manny’s recent ascension (which Titus had only just learned of during his quick hospital visit). She wondered if somehow Lachesis had accomplished something similar, but seeing as he was still alive they weren’t sure how. Rom attempted to explain that Lachesis’ goal was to break the Great Seal (though he avoided explaining it to her), but she just asked why bother. If the Seal held back the gods, wouldn’t it be protecting Lachesis? Breaking it would let them attack him and he probably wouldn’t stand up very well to that. Instead she asked them what the Wyrd were trying to do and why they weren’t interested in Bluesky City very much. But neither Sara nor Rom had answers, and so she sent them home and told them to speak with their spiritual advisers.

Now the party must decide: investigate the Fatespinners in Bluesky City or go to the Esterlands to search for information about the Key of Slow Time?

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Interlude
A Divine Herald!

Resistance of Manny HQ, City of jik’ton, Kal’renth
Thursday, about 2:00…

“And this is the armory,” Brother Thom was saying. “You’ll get a locker for your stuff. We can give you a lock, but everyone knows the combination anyway, it’s just two smashes and a good hard tug.” He held up a lock that had seen much better days. The newbie nodded, something told him that Manny approved. “If you really want something, go get a lock from the city, but it’ll have to come out of your pay. Father Wilhelm is very strict on spending.”

Brother Fred understood. Money was hard to come by these days, economies were completely isolated. Lately the city had been offering incentives for workers and youngsters to go farm. The chromatic citizens had brought up the old debate about raiding before city council. It was an interesting time, Fred thought, but such concerns were beneath him now. Ever since he had felt the blessings of Manny come to him after that sermon in Bluesky, he had a sense that his purpose involved less accounting and more smashing (and occasional rage-accounting, a skill probably unique to Brother Fred). To that end, he had been given an axe upon arrival. He took another look at it reverently as Brother Thom went on about the other recruits. It wasn’t a greataxe, or even a very-good-axe. It was the sort of axe your grandpa might have, only a bit thicker and more suited for chopping heads. And it bore the symbol of the Blessed Manny, the Exalted Dreadnaught, the Barbarian of Light and Freedom, He Who Smashes Bad Guys, Eater of Pies, etc.

“Um, excuse me, Brother Thom?” he interrupted. Thom raised an eyebrow. “Well, when do we get to the training?”

“Oh, the fighting starts tomorrow morning. Someone will grab you from your bed in the early morning and throw you out into the training ground. Then they’ll grab a weapon and attack. You’ll have a shield somewhere, if you can get to it, but you’ll probably die once or twice until you can figure out the rage.”

“Die?” Brother Fred gulped, confused and scared.

“Yup! I mean, it’s not real death, but it’s as close as you’ll get before you actually kick the bucket.” He laughed at the expression on Fred’s face. “Hey, I went through it, too. Hurts like hell and real scary, but don’t worry. See that weapon you’re holding? All the weapons here have the mark of Manny on them. As long as you use one of those in HQ, they can’t actually kill or main you. They still hurt, you’ll still bleed and fall unconscious as if you died, but Father Wilhelm arranged for a special enchantment on them.”

“What happens if someone…” Fred drew a line across his neck. Brother Thom smiled. It was a good smile, the worst kind. The kind someone gives you right before- squelch!

Brother Fred hit the ground with a wet smack. He couldn’t move, couldn’t feel anything, couldn’t breathe. Above him Thom smiled and the world went dark. And then all of a sudden he felt a punch in his lungs. He opened his eyes and his vision blurred, then cleared, and he began coughing. Blood, there was a lot of blood. He felt his neck. Oh good, his head was still attached. There was blood there, and maybe even a scar, but then all of a sudden he felt a wave of warmth from his hand. He didn’t even register he was mumbling something. He could feel his wound closing and could see a faint yellow glow from his hand. His breathing cleared and he sat up, still taking stock of the world.

“Magic? That’s weird,” he murmured. He reached a hand down and helped Fred stand up. “There, easy now. Your first is always the hardest, but you’ll get used to the disorientation after a little while.”

“Did you just…why?”

“We’re the Church of Manny. We smash first, talk later. At least that’s what they teach us. And really how else should I have explained how it all works? We’ve got healing available after each round if you need it. Some folks are more resistant than others.”

“But why this? I thought you’d use training weapons like sticks or something?”

“Because the Wyrd will never use a training stick on you.”

Fred thought about this for a moment. “So we dance with death now, so that we’re not afraid of it in a real fight.”

“Yeah, basically.”

Fred nodded. It kinda made sense. Kinda. He really felt like he needed some time to meditate and pray. “What about time to pray?”

“Well, there are vespers before breakfast and again before bed, if that’s what you mean.”

“Not really. When do I have time to think on Manny’s teachings?”

“His teachings are battle. How can you think on them without fighting?”

“I just…feel like I need some time to prepare myself each day, that’s all.” Fred stared at his holy symbol.

“Hmm, maybe we’d better have you talk to Father Arroway.” Thom looked out at the training grounds. Sister Elone was fencing with another recruit. The newbie had already lost a lung and taken a hit to his shoulder. That he was still up was a sign of progress. “I think you’re going to need a different training regimen than the barbarians. Come, let’s go see him.”

Brother Thom led Fred out into the sun. Father Arroway’s quarters were on the other side of the compound. they walked along the outer edge of the arena, staying away from the real fights. Suddenly, Fred stopped and looked to the sky. “What is it?” Thom asked. “The sirens would be blaring if Sid was attacking.”

“It’s not that. He is sending a messenger.” Fred stepped out into the arena holding out his holy symbol. It was beginning to glow. Thom watched as Fred walked toward the center, not even seeming to be aware of the training battles around him. The glow was spreading from his symbol across his body. Fighters who turned to strike him for getting in the way, saw the light in his eyes and backed away in awe. “He is coming, I need to let him in… He is coming, I need to let him in…” Fred repeated.

Fred had stopped and stared into the sky, glowing with power and staring at the sky. By now most of the arena was watching him. Sister Elone’s opponent had done well, but turned his head to look at Fred and let his guard down. A quick stab through the heart finished him and Sister Elone took a moment to look. “By the heavens,” she whispered. “Get out of the way! Move away from him!” She ran over, yelling at the slowpokes. “Hey, kid, can you hear me?”

Fred looked down at her, awe and worry on his face. “How do I let him in?”

“Sister Elone!” Thom ran over. “Do you know what it is?”

“It’s a messenger, an angel from the gods.” She took Fred’s hands in hers. “Go fetch the High Fathers.”

“All of them? But I-”

“Yes, Thom! All of them, quickly. They’ll come.” She glared at him and he ran off. Then she looked back at Fred. The power was building up and forming wings of light on his back. “Can you hear me, brother?” Fred nodded. “Good then listen to me. I will guide you.” She knelt down, pulling him with her. The holy symbol of Manny held up in their hands white-hot, but not burning them. “Repeat after me:” She began to pray in Celestial, a simple prayer inviting the angel inside. Together they chanted, and the light around Fred flowed up into the air forming a magic circle above them. Blessed Manny, Echoe, gods, Elone thought, give Thom speed. I can’t complete the ritual, this needs a real cleric.

As if he had heard her quiet prayer, Fathers Arroway and Hirzon arrived. Hirzon barked orders to the cadets to clear the area. Amoss and Lomasi flew in a moment later. Father Arroway understood immediately and called for Perilune Clair to be summoned. He walked over and placed his hands on the holy symbol and chanted a new prayer. The light scribed his words in the circle and a beam shot forth to the sky, reaching above the shield to scribe another circle.

“My, my, is that a summoning circle?” Wilhelm commented, ever casual. He had joined them with Clair.

“Almost, Sir Chaoite,” she replied. “It is a calling and it is only used to call forth celestial beings. In this case, I would guess someone wants to visit and your shield is in the way.”

“Will this ritual allow them in?” Hirzon asked.

“Not exactly,” she pointed up. “It could plane shift up there, but in this case, we’re giving it a conduit, calling it here instead.” Hirzon gave her a blank stare. “It can’t come and go as it pleases.” He relaxed, as much as he ever did.

With a final prayer, Arroway lifted his hands and completed the spell. A burst of holy power shot up the beam to the circle in the sky. It shone and four wings manifested around a ball of light. “Sister Elone,” he said, “stand down. The holy one has chosen a host.” Elone looked up at him a little surprised and then over to Clair. The Perilune nodded and she stood and stepped back. Above them, the ball of light and wings flew down the pillar of light and into Fred. He gave a cry and floated into the air. The wings enveloped him and with a mighty gust of air they unfolded to reveal a great and powerful angel, a Solar. Everyone knelt.

“Rise and hear ye, mortals, my proclamation of the ascent and true divinity of Manny Kilore, the Exalted Dreadnaught! From the plane of Arborea he rules with Justice and Freedom. He protects the Court of Stars and crushes tyranny and before him no evil stands. He of the mighty axe commands me to inform you, his church, of his teachings. Know that only those whom he has commanded me to speak to shall hear my words.

The Blessed Manny Kilore has ascended to godhood because of the work that you, his church, has so faithfully carried out. He commands you to continue spreading his word that his power might grow and he might stand ever more radiantly against the evil of Lachesis and the Wyrd. He commands that you hold no ill will toward other gods. As a god, the Blessed Manny chooses to abide by the Divine Contract for now as the vile Lachesis holds sway over the paths between your plane and the planes of the Wheel. Thus he has designated, through me, this mortal to be his herald. Let it be known that this mortal, this Brother Fred, is Manny’s first true cleric. Speaking to him is as speaking to me, and speaking to me is to speak to the Great Barbarian. Should he wish to command you, it will be through me and through this mortal. Treat him with respect, but do not soften his skin or dull his edge. Prepare for war with the Wyrd as the Blessed Manny labors in his mighty forge and trains his army and know that to fall in battle will be to join him in his ranks.

Hear me, mortals, for the Exalted Dreadnaught blesses you. May you go forth and smash all that is vile and may you spread the word of Manny, that his power might shine ever brighter against tyranny and corruption!"

The wings closed about the solar and a powerful gust of wind blew forth, knocking some to the ground. They opened to reveal Fred, floating amidst the bright heavenly light. With a flash the light and wings rose swiftly up the pillar to the calling circle in the air. There they burst in a shower of feathers and Fred’s feet touched the ground, the glow fading from his eyes. He looked around, confused. Father Arroway put an arm around his shoulders. “There, easy now. The first time’s a bit rough.”

“What? What was all that?” Fred looked around at the confusion. “What, why are you all staring at me?”

Arroway laughed. “Not everyone understands Celestial like you do, Brother.” Fred blinked a bit and then blushed. He reached up to scratch the back of his head and jumped.

“What? What’s this!” He looked to the left and tried to pull his hair around to the front, pulling out a feather instead.

Amoss smiled and walked over to him, matching his height. “Hey, don’t worry. You’ve got some feathers now, griffon ones it looks like. Here, like this.” She turned around and morphed her hair to match so he could see what everyone else was staring at. On the back of his head, his hair, already brown, now gave way to the large brown feathers of a griffon. “It’s alright,” she said, smiling. “The Blessed Manny will look out for you. Welcome, Herald Frederick, to the Church of Manny.”

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Bluesky City: Episode 2
General Beatrix

After an unproductive attack on the temple construction, Team RYSN wandered the streets empty-handed, looking for clues. Rom caught sight of a woman in a crimson mantle with a strange brooch and began stalking her while Niachi and Sara’phiem followed a local pickpocket who had been signaling them in the marketplace. He led them to a basement where they were introduced to a local resistance movement. Their leader, General Beatrix was away on reconnaissance, but one of their captains showed them around town. He introduced himself as Nathan Fillion, a monk in the church of Olim who wasn’t corrupted. He explained that Team RYSN had caused significant problems with their attack last week, but was willing to help them make up for it.

Around the town, he explained, the Monks have been constructing six temples. There are five smaller ones and then main temple atop the city. Each temple has a receptacle for a large object, and so far intel from the mines suggests that the Monks intend to place large zorite crystals in each one. For what, Nathan wasn’t sure, but he led Niachi and Sara around town to examine them. While out, Sara took notice of a strangely placed rose in a flower pot. Nathan explained that it symbolized a safe-house for the resistance. Meanwhile, Rom stalked the lady int he crimson cloak and asked her where she had found it. She said it came from a peddler from the south. He didn’t quite believe her, but it seemed a sensible explanation so he apologized for bothering her. As she walked off he noticed she was mildly evil and so he took sight note of where she lived.

Nathan told the other two that General Beatrix would be in touch with them in a few days, so they filled the remaining time in their own ways: Rom by preaching the valor of Manny, Niachi by making a new spell, and Sara by working on bombs (she’s a little rusty, cut her some slack). A few days later another thief appeared and asked them to come meet the General. They followed him to a wealthy house in one of the upper rings. There General Beatrix introduced herself, saying she had been looking forward to meeting the group for some time. She was a lovely woman with long hair and an enigmatic mask and called herself a ki warlord and one of the Four Generals of the Royal Army of Manscell. The group asked her about the Royal Palace and why it had been so well guarded. She said she wasn’t sure what had happened to the royal family, but the palace was guarded by General Ephraim, a skilled man who wields a lance and specializes in fighting sword-wielders. While not her better, the two of them have been evenly matched so far, keeping her from retaking the city. With that settled, she explained the plan.

Apparently the Monks were planning some sort of ritual in five days’ time. They’d been using the local mining and construction golems to transport materials. The resistance had been planning on interrupting the caravans, but since Yasuo led the attack on the temple last week, security has been increased significantly. In return for helping to stop the Monks, she promised Team RYSN that she would hand over the cleric of Olim they were looking for. The team agreed and began planning their attack. Niachi wondered about simply overloading the zorite with excess magic, but Beatrix reported that new intel suggested Wolfrau had arrived to help guard the crystals. Unable to take out the caravans she suggested they try a simultaneous strike on all five locations. Once destroyed, the large crystal, guessed to be a giant emanation stone, would explode from all the magic pumped through it.

Each member of the team will lead a small force on one of the five smaller temples with the assistance of one cohort (or cohort-level NPC). You may double up on one, but you will have to send extra forces to the other. To help you, you have the assistance of General Beatrix, a ki warlord and powerful fighter, Nathan Fillion, Sister Elone (lv. 14 Paladin), and Brother Thom (lv. 12 Cleric of Manny). Each group will also get four lv. 7 Fighters or Rogues. Each of you gets to determine your team. We will not have the next session until everyone can be present.

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Bluesky City: Episode 1
Monks and Golems

With Valorie safely captured and contained within the Resistance HQ, Twilight debriefed Team RYSN on her status. She wasn’t sure if Valorie could be restored, but research would require carinite and captive antitheses. The team agreed to get on that as soon as never and, ignoring the boon of an item from the dragons, they left for Bluesky City. Upon arrival they concealed themselves and set about gathering information. Niachi and Rom learned that since Zerstorung the clerics of Olim had become a mysterious group known only as The Monks. The Monks ruled the city now, but aside from commandeering the local construction golems, the city had been mostly left alone. Guards were posted, of course, but most of them appeared to be un-corrupted. The feel of the city was remarkably more relaxed than Aventurine had been.

Yasuo spent his time interrogating a homeless person. Aside from several strange things regarding his grandmother, he learned that The Monks were building a temple on top of the mountainous city (as did Niachi). Yasuo went to investigate. Instead of gathering any information, he simply looked around for the foreman, a monk on a ledge, and attempted to push him off. The monk kicked him away instead. They had a short battle and while Yasuo defeated the Monk, the local golems came to his aid and chased the psion away (due to their natural invulnerability to spells and powers). He returned with little to show for his efforts, but it was good exercise. He also introduced the party to his thrall, whom they proceeded to ignore.

With nothing else to go on, the party assaulted the temple. They beat up some misplaced battlemaidens and some golems and obtained a small amount of loot. The Monk from before was not present.

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Defense of the City
Valorie Returns!

“Attack on Jik’Ton! All hands to battle stations! All militia members take up arms! Non-defenders shelter in place or make way to the nearest temples. All kin to report to temples, Gynari and mortal casters to report to Resistance of Manny HQ! … Repeat, attack on Jik’ton!…”

The sirens wailed and the bells rang. Every man and many women took up arms, spellbooks, and wands and took to the streets. The half-dragons took to the air to coordinate the draconic in clearing the streets. Overhead, an enormous sapphire dragon flew and bellowed a rallying cry. From around the city dragons and half-dragons of all colors flew to join him. The Pendragon, commander of the defense of Jik’ton, quickly took a position for himself high above the city, a little ways outside. From there he ordered the flying kin into battle formation. The flightless kin were assigned to valuable targets in the city: city hall, the harbor, and the temples. Not that the temples needed much defense, but they would need time to situate themselves. The citizens were to shelter in the temples of Savannah, Sarah, and Paijara while the followers of Caleb and Erick mobilized under Uther’s command. The remaining clerics either migrated to protect the civilians and set up field hospitals.

On the ground the Resistance of Manny divided the city into sections. Hirzon and Wilhelm had been quick to organize the mortals, as per their contract with the dragons, and now mobilized their forces and the people of the city to protect it. Attacks like these were either bombing runs or, especially recently, assaults. In the case of the latter, as now, Wilhelm took strategic command from the air. As a master of the air he was in as much danger as Uther. Hirzon, St. Amoss, Mother Lomasi, Father Arroway, Perilune Claire, and Sister Elone each led the defense of a section of the city, each contigent designed to fight off whatever Ur-Lord Sid summoned down, while Brother Thom was given defense of HQ. Team RYSN took a section neabry HQ and prepared for the creatures.

Ur-Lord Sid began his assault with a large number of Lifael and Warless to wreak havoc on the town, but the people were prepared. One does not attack the town over and over without the inhabitants learning to prepare additional fire and energy protection. The first wave was over in less than a minute and the defenders had hardly worked up a sweat, but then explosions lit the sky. All across the city the defenders stopped and watched as fireballs and lightning bolts flew at the dragons around Sid, driving them back and killing a few. The people watched in shock as the smoke cleared to reveal two new figures in the sky: an elf in robes with a grand staff, arcane energies swirling about him, and a woman in the vestments of a druid with bands of light about her wrists and holding a golden orb.

Together the two mages cast a powerful summoning spell, bringing forth meteors from the heavens upon the city. Where the fell opened portals to the Abyss and demons began to poor forth. But they were only the guards. From where the meteors had fallen rose a new foe. Armored humanoids wielding large weapons, all made of a black metal. Zorite steel. Take cold iron to it’s extreme and you obtain a substance that is anathema to magic. Somehow these creatures were animated by magic to the point of life, and yet were untouchable by all but the most powerful of spellcasters. The people and dragons of Jik’ton were not prepared. Many of the kin fled to the temples and many of the mortal spellcasters were struck down. Across the city the dragons fought defensively pulling back into the temples of Shiarn and Savannah as the armored creatures advanced. And then, as they drew closer to the temple of Sara and refuge of the citizens, one was struck from behind. It screamed in pain and imploded in a burst of dispel. Behind it was a bard and a thief from a nearby tavern. Together they outwitted the constructs, so that when Hirzon’s party arrived the battle was over and the bard was humming a merry little tune. Before Hirzon could ask, the gnome hopped to his feet and said, “Hail Manny, full of Smash.”

Team RYSN also faced one of these creatures, which the dragons later named Wolfrau (meaning unmelting, in reference to wolfram, a metal which cannot be melted by any fire of mortal or dragon). Their encounter was not that much different from the rest of the city as the demons they faced nearly incapacitated Rom. He narrowly avoided being encased in their webbing—there is no escaping the web of a Bebilith—was crushed and had his shield removed, though his armor survived. The single Wofrau they encountered was quickly dispatched by Niachi and Titus, just as the mysterious thief had done so earlier. Knowing the weakness of the Wolfrau, Team RYSN began to co-ordinate with Hirzon and Wilhelm, who quickly re-organized the defenders to make better use of their rogues and duelists. As the battle appeared to wind down, an amethyst dragon approached Team RYSN.

She named herself Mylanth and though young, had been chosen by Uther to bring a message to Team RYSN. The two people who had appeared in the sky were Ur-Lord Severus and Valorie, who now wielded the Orb of Brass Dragonkind. This item was an artifact of the greatest power: giving her the abilities of an ancient brass dragon doomed to eternal imprisonment within the orb. But it also gave her the unholy ability to dominate any brass dragon who approached. Such an Orb exists for each variety of dragon, though most are controlled and protected by the dragons, themselves. The Resistance had known for some time that the Brass Orb was missing, along with certain others. Because the dragons dared not use the orbs for themselves, Uther could not have seen Valorie’s possession of this one and didn’t know if Severus or Sid possessed any others. Thus he split his forces. Any dragons or kin that could be spared in the fight against Sid were sent back to protect the council and the vaults of the remaining Orbs. But all other dragons or kin who could still fight were being kept to hold off Sid. That left none for Valorie, who had taken up hold of a hill outside Jik’ton and was assaulting the city from the rear.

He commanded Team RYSN to dispatch Valorie. He had no other forces to spare and he could not risk her or Severus holding another of the Orbs. Already Mylanth reported that Valorie had captured a young adult brass dragon named Jura and one enslaved dragon was too many. Wilhelm and Hirzon agreed with Uther’s plan, especially since they were bound by contract, and so Team RYSN went out to face their old friend. Their objectives:

  1. Retake the Orb
  2. Rescue Jura, if possible. Kill her if not.
  3. Rescue Valorie if possible, and kill her if not.

The battle began with the now corrupted Valorie taunting them. She came with a slave of a dragon and three Wolfrau, but no companion. Instead twisted growths had burst forth from her body, her skin was twisted and gnarled into the hardest of bark, and her eyes were nothing more than pools of white noise. Titus could tell that she had prepared herself with plenty of abjurations to protect her. Jura opened with her breath weapon of sleeping, which failed on all but Sara’phiem. Valorie placed a large cloud of acid fog on the field to prevent any paladins from reckless charging and let Jura run interference on the werewolf while she dealt with the rogues. Titus was trapped in the fog and Niachi, though he narrowly avoided her disintegrate, was put to sleep by her awesome breath weapon, granted by the Orb she carried. Niachi’s sword refused to let it end like this and woke the cat with a great bolt of lightning. He and Titus closed in, but were once again stopped, this time by a field of black tentacles.

Despite her advantages and her plans for each of the party, they slowly overcame her obstacles. Rom beat down Jura to an inch of her life. She tried to break free of her dominate, but was unable and continued to attack. In his bloodlust, Rom killed her, not realizing she was only a pawn. Immediately divine lightning struck down some of his power, including his ability to shift form, but this only served to motivate him to finish the battle that much quicker. He blasted the Wolfrau away with a prismatic spray, and nearly caught Valorie in the blast. She resisted and attempted to retreat into the fog, but Raniy, after waking Sara’phiem, dispelled the fog. This allowed Titus and Rom to flank her. The ninja poisoned her and Rom knocked the Orb from her hand, taking it for his own. Raniy swooped in from the side to cast harm upon the former druid, but she found the last bit of strength in her to resist, and lunged for the Orb. She nearly grabbed it, but Titus’ poison and the toll of the battle had made her too weak and she fell to the ground as they knocked her unconscious.

With the defeat of their former ally, the party watched as Uther, Wilhelm, St. Amoss, and Hirzon routed Ur-Lord Sid from the sky. He escaped, of course, and in the aftermath it seemed Severus had as well, or at least no one had seen him since his initial arrival. Security was high for the rest of the night, but the battle was definitively won.

Back at Resistance HQ, Valorie now rests imprisoned in an anti-magic cell and warded with carinite. Twilight, Hirzon, and the clerics now ponder what to do with her and whether or not her soul can be saved…

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Merry X-mas!
The X stands for Xark ;)

On the 25th day of the dodeca-month,
The season of being ecstatically drunk,
On this very day, all over the world,
Who should arrive to each boy and girl,
But a merry ole’ scamp and his really wyrd sleigh!

He hops down the chimney, taking 20 with ease
To find all the kidlings asleep with their Z’s.
And while they sleep tight he quick steals their dreams!
(In case they contain inappropriate themes.)
He watches each one like he watches a play.

And once he’s observed all the kid’s desires,
He returns their dreams and stokes up their fires.
He hangs bags of holding, filled to the top
With stuffing and turkey and toys that go pop!
Then jumps up the chimney, all up and away.

This time he circles all ‘round the world,
Seeking a strange little psionic girl.
She’s a scout with powers that come from the mind
And that makes her not a real easy find
But this rogue can find her, every day!

While she dozes, her mind still blessed
By a goddess whose power will surely be best
The rogue leaves a bag of only type one
With a Ring of Fast Healing 5, oh what fun!
(And it casts Cure Moderate two times per day.)

On to the next, a dour old soul
Whose paladin brain is no fun at all.
Following the rules the best he can,
He leaves a gift for the furry lycan:
A thrice-useful brooch with prismatic spray!

The lizard-y cleric is not hard to find
After each day she has to unwind.
As a cohort she knows her chances are slim
So he gives her a stone to help her win.
A +1 to luck is a nice gift today!

One ninja hides in darkness so great
That even this rogue must resort to bait.
He leaves out a saucer of catnip and fish
And five oils of lightning for his sword’s wish.
With five extra dice his sword will slay.

The ghostly psion is hard to resist
But Heimdall’s heir must not be missed.
To risk it would be to invite much ire,
So he left the gift of resistance to fire!
Ten points from a belt made from a ray.

Lastly the soul who’s been here the longest.
He survived that fight but isn’t the strongest.
So here is a poison made of the cold
A DC of 20 plus 5 for the bold.
Twice, 2d4 drain to dex right away.

And with all his presents given and gone
Our rogue must quickly go and move on.
To each little kid in Manscell and Marth,
To every elven and dwarven hearth,
To every soul this X-mas day…

A thousand XP to all,
and long may you play!

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